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Morris Keith Hopkins — , a Fellow of the British Academy, played a key role in broadening the study of ancient history, particularly the history of Rome. Having learned historical sociology, Hopkins was able to conduct a series of structural analyses of Roman society such as had rarely if ever been attempted by previous historians.

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Morris Keith Hopkins 1934–20041

Morris Keith Hopkins — , a Fellow of the British Academy, played a key role in broadening the study of ancient history, particularly the history of Rome. Having learned historical sociology, Hopkins was able to conduct a series of structural analyses of Roman society such as had rarely if ever been attempted by previous historians. Hopkins became a real sociologist in Hong Kong, whose massive housing problem he studied. He also spent time in North America; he was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Throughout his career as a scholar, Hopkins strove to solve fundamental and very difficult historical problems, and to do this in an exciting and immediate fashion.

It certainly took a considerable amount of audacity to do all that Hopkins did to broaden the study of ancient and in particular Roman history Yet the rethinking he advocated was not always well understood, and it remains to some extent an open question how deep the effects of his work have been and will be. Whether this is more because of the bloodiness of the reformer, the conservatism of his colleagues, or the Utopian nature of the changes he hoped to bring about, could be endlessly debated.

When Hopkins looked back on his tenure of the Cambridge chair that he had long desired and then occupied for sixteen years, he was dissatisfied with himself; but it can easily be argued that no one in his generation did more to keep the subject in vigorous health. He introduced new topics, and demonstrated the importance of topics that had once been marginal. Having learned historical sociology from Elias, Giddens, and others , he was able to conduct a series of structural analyses of Roman society such as had rarely if ever been attempted by previous historians.

He arguably p. And over a long period, because of the breadth of his interests and the accessibility of his writing, he shared with his mentor Moses Finley much of the privilege and responsibility of telling British scholars in other specialities what the ancient world had really been like. As much as anyone since Momigliano, he suggested to a wide variety of them not only that Roman history was an intrinsically important field but that some of its practitioners were sometimes worth reading. What that public heard, whether it knew it or not, was a deeply original voice.

What scholars encountered, when they listened to Hopkins or read his works, was a sharp intelligence and a person who derived deep satisfaction as well as frequent amusement from applying that intelligence to history and historians. What saved him from excessive bloodiness, in the eyes of those who knew him well, was that he criticised himself as searchingly as he criticised anyone else.

In his later career, therefore, he tried hard to fashion a new kind of ancient history appropriate to the s, an effort that was in the end partially frustrated. But his colleagues also encountered a personality that was sometimes too aggressive to be capable of persuasion.

With people he liked, Hopkins was charming to the point of seductiveness, and he judged with fine precision just how much self-revelation conduced to solid friendship. As an ancient historian he deserves to be remembered as one of the most original, perhaps the most original, of his generation, notwithstanding many flaws in his work and one large scholarly argosy that did not return to port.

Morris Keith Hopkins was born at Sutton in Surrey on 20 June , and died in Cambridge shortly after twelve on the night of 8—9 March His father Albert was a successful trader in textiles, his paternal grandfather was a Kentish stone-mason. She was the daughter of a Russian dentist who was naturalised as an American but practised in court circles in Iran, a world that is p.

Drane, While she was a young mother she mostly resided in the Gold Coast too, so that the two Hopkins children, Keith and his older sister April, did not live with both parents until Keith had been some years in boarding schools. He first went away to school before his fourth birthday, and entered Brentwood School at the age of seven, leaving in Legend has it that the six-year-old Hopkins wrote a precocious letter from school asking for books by Gibbon and Macaulay so that he could get down to writing the history of ancient Rome.

Meanwhile there were war-time hazards for anyone in the vicinity of London. His sister recalls an occasion when, while they were staying in Hampstead, an explosion, which must have been a V-l or a V-2 rocket, blew out the French windows in the room where the children lay in bed.

Hopkins did not send any of his five children to a boarding school. He was inclined to puncture the pretensions of Brentwood. But this ambitious youth did very well there, and not only as a pupil; he was also part of the establishment—senior NCO of the cadet force, captain of the chess team an unusual combination , yet also editor of the school magazine, a member of the rugby XV, head of his house, and finally senior prefect of the whole school.

Photographs show a good-looking young man sitting next to the headmaster, wearing a gown and also a proper expression of entitlement. He knew how to accept responsibilities, more than most males of his age, and he had a thorough knowledge of Greek and Latin. If this upbringing had any lasting ill effects, they were invisible in the later decades of his life.

Those who knew him when he was young are inclined to suppose that his early life made for a level of irascibility that p. As his bloodiness gradually confined itself to specialised academic channels, a sense of his own imperfections came more into view; this was indeed one of his most attractive characteristics. Enthusiastic letters home still survive.

The other surviving record is a photograph of the international delegation of students in the company of a quite bemused-looking President Eisenhower. National service followed. After basic training, Midshipman M. He was not displeased to recall later that out of or who began the course, only twenty-five were commissioned at the end of it.

Besides Russian, he also learned that a high proportion of naval officers continued to come from prominent public schools. Wilkinson and Donald Lucas, but as an undergraduate he probably did not at first see himself as a future scholar. Jones and Moses Finley, 2 and in his third year Finley was his p. And Finley, he said, made him work as he had never worked before. He also took and passed the Civil Service exam. A year in America was in fashion, however, and before the Tripos results were known he was accepted by the History Department at the University of Illinois in Urbana, where he spent a year acquiring a wider historical education than Cambridge offered to its classicists.

The crucial influence right at the beginning was, however, Finley, who was beginning to work a scholarly revolution in those years, helped by a wide historical education, a magnetic personality, and considerable ambition. Finley, like Arnaldo Momigliano, saw and deplored the intellectual insularity of ancient history in Britain, and most of all the feebleness of a view of antiquity that paid no attention to such fundamental facts of ancient life as slavery.

Nowadays one might carp about this argument, but in Jones and Finley—and Hopkins—were the only ancient historians p. Meanwhile Finley was determined that Hopkins should overcome what he saw not without some envy, in my view as the defects of a British classical education: he needed to learn some social science, and for Finley that meant above all sociology or economics.

In those days young British academics moved quite quickly into teaching positions, and when the lectureship or teaching fellowship came, you took it. In the Sociology Department at the University of Leicester, which was headed by the distinguished Ilya Neustadt, 5 and also contained the equally distinguished though not yet famous Norbert Elias, needed assistant lecturers.

The appointments committee presumably had little difficulty in selecting Anthony Giddens, a fresh Ph. The simultaneous appointment of Hopkins was more daring, since he had no serious sociological credentials whatsoever, and it was engineered by Moses Finley, as Hopkins later recounted; Neustadt, however, was the person who had to take his courage into his hands.

Later on, Hopkins more or less seriously credited Giddens with having taught him sociology; and both of them used to attend the lectures of Elias. Giddens also recalls the great scandal young Hopkins caused by entering the Leicester University senior common room not wearing a tie.

Not even Finley had written about ancient demography, and the truly modern bibliography of the subject consisted of a single article p. They had three children together, Rachel, Edmund and Ben, all of them great sources of parental pride. Hopkins was now the son-in-law of the labour economist Sir Henry Phelps Brown, who also became a scholarly adviser and helped him mature as a social scientist. The move to LSE assistant lecturer in Sociology , lecturer was brought about by the professor of demography there, D.

The move in the direction of sociology seemed more pronounced now, and it must have been in the next year or so that Hopkins showed for the first time the strong interest in quantification that was to mark most of his career. This p. In both cases Hopkins essentially set the terms of the debate that has unrolled ever since. Three papers in three years changed the basis of Roman social history, not simply by putting new topics on the agenda but by showing which techniques would produce the most plausible results.

All of these papers are buttressed by the traditional philological and bibliographical prowess of the ancient historian, but their aim was to make an impression on sociologists and social historians: the choice of the journals to publish in see above, notes 3 and 9 was not casual. The degree to which Hopkins now carried conviction as a sociologist was indicated in when he was appointed review editor of the British Journal of Sociology a position he held until he left Britain in In the same year there came out another enormously wide-ranging p.

It hardly mattered if he did not quite get the vectors of Roman expansion right: he was far ahead of anyone else. All this could have led to a chair in sociology in Britain, but the first interesting chair that was open was in Hong Kong, with the double advantage that it could be done on secondment from LSE and that it looked like a clear break with classics. The appointment which was for three years seemed to mean giving up ancient history—sociology written in Hong Kong could hardly be about the Romans.

Hopkins indubitably saw that Finley was likely to succeed to the Cambridge chair as he did in , and that he would have to retire by There was a grand solution to the sociology-or-ancient-history dilemma, only available to a person of great mental energy: do both. At all events, he departed rich in memories of Hong Kong sounds and smells.

And the Roman historian had seen something of what he thought ancient poverty might have looked like. There was also another sense in which Hopkins became a real sociologist in Hong Kong: he was able to think of research projects being carried out by groups, a largely alien mode of operation for British historians and classicists at that time. After two years, at all events, Hopkins decided that he had had enough of Hong Kong. Having won an invitation to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton as a social scientist though the School of Social Sciences, soon to be headed by Clifford Geertz, had not yet formally come into being , 17 he resigned from his Hong Kong chair.

In retrospect what seems most anomalous about this sequence of events is not that Hopkins went to Hong Kong and investigated housing—that p. Hopkins was indeed politically moderate even when young though he never, he said, voted Conservative ; he would explain that he did not believe that any political party or movement was likely to produce a net decrease in social injustice.

Meanwhile there was a vast amount of work to do, both in ancient history and, after , in building up the social sciences at Brunel. Several ancient historians are accused, but three are praised, Peter Brunt, Finley of course—and, less predictably perhaps, Momigliano.

The same year provided two enormous opportunities: he joined the editorial board of the young and innovative Trevor Aston-led Past and Present in a sense replacing A. Jones, who had died in , and he was appointed Professor of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the also still young Brunel University created in —with the great advantage of staying in London.

The ideological wars of the s sometimes made themselves felt, and for a time Hopkins was quite unpopular with the left-wing staff. But his reputation as a departmental administrator grew which is worth mentioning, since he never had such a reputation later on in the Classics Faculty at Cambridge , and that was what led to his being appointed p.

It was a difficult era of Thatcherian cuts and their after-effects. The subject of his inaugural lecture at Brunel was nicely selected to connect social anthropology and antiquity: brother-sister marriage in Roman Egypt, an anomalous but well-attested phenomenon—familiar to scholars but still mysterious.

The years spent at Brunel allowed a long series of debates with other ancient historians in various settings in the University of London which are invariably remembered with nostalgia by those who took part in them, or at least by those who lived to tell the tale for it was here that Hopkins delivered his technique of lethal intervention. Deep disagreements were no obstacle, and one of the main reasons was Hopkins, his energy and originality. This period also saw him quite often in North America, as a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania , a member of the Institute for Advanced Study again in —5, 21 and as a visiting professor for one quarter at UCLA During the second of these visits I invited him to lecture at Columbia, which was our first meeting.

At the start of his lecture, the speaker came out from behind the lectern, sat cheerfully on the small table in front of it, and looking as well as sounding like something completely new explained the Romans to us for sixty extraordinarily stimulating minutes. A long and festive but also intellectually strenuous evening at my apartment followed, and the beginning of strong affection. When he was invited to give the Gray Lectures at Cambridge in , at a relatively early age Moses Finley at work again , he delivered a preliminary version p.

The introduction to the first volume says that it is. It is also an attempt to apply some modern sociological concepts and techniques to Roman history. The charge was not completely unfair, but such sweeping claims grated even on those who were willing to learn.

Hopkins_Death-and-Renewal.pdf

He was professor of ancient history at the University of Cambridge from to Hopkins had a relatively unconventional route to the Cambridge professorship. He spent time as a graduate student, much influenced by Moses Finley , but left before completing his doctorate [1] for an assistant lectureship in sociology at the University of Leicester — Hopkins returned to Cambridge as a research fellow at King's College, Cambridge — while at the same time taking a lectureship at the London School of Economics , before spending two years as professor of sociology at Hong Kong University — After a further two years at the LSE —72 , he moved to Brunel University as professor of sociology in , also serving as dean of the social sciences faculty from to He is most famed for Conquerors and Slaves , whereas he argued that ancient historians need not submit to the sources they studied, but rather demanded they be questioned and understood within their larger context of interaction. His rethinking of traditionalist methodology, and famed disagreement with traditionalist Millar, makes him one of the most influential twentieth-century ancient historians.

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Hopkins_Death-and-Renewal.pdf

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The University has printed and published continuously since This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published First paperback edition List of tables page vii List of figures viii Preface ix Abbreviations xix Map xxii-xxiii.

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Morris Keith Hopkins 1934–20041

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Ramsay Macmullen, Keith Hopkins. Death and Renewal. Sociological Studies in Roman History, number 2. New York: Cambridge University Press. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.

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Tilly A. 05.06.2021 at 14:16

Cambridge Core - Ancient History - Death and Renewal. Keith Hopkins. Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Online pp i-iv. Access. PDF; Export citation.

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